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November 4, 2016 12:20 PM, EDT

Truckstop.com Teams With FTR to Offer Rate Forecasting Service

Seth Clevenger/Transport Topics
DALLAS — Truckstop.com is preparing to launch a service that forecasts rates for spot market freight as far as a year in advance.

That information has the potential to “revolutionize” the industry by helping freight brokers and carriers better plan for the future, said Brent Hutto, the company’s chief marketing officer.

Truckstop.com will offer the rate forecasting capability in partnership with transportation research firm FTR. The service, set to launch in the first quarter, combines the data generated by Truckstop.com with FTR’s forecasts and market insights.

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In addition, Truckstop.com also introduced its next-generation rate analysis platform and a feature that provides additional information about posted loads. The company announced the new product offerings here Nov. 3 at its annual conference.

The rate forecasting service will enable customers to plan based on how rates are expected to fluctuate in the days, weeks and months ahead. It also can provide rate analysis for specific markets and down to the lane level.

“We’re talking about really specific information that can help you adjust, anticipate and predict where you want to go with your rating in the marketplace,” Hutto said.

Brokers, carriers and shippers all could benefit from this information through improved budgeting, benchmarking and business planning, he said.

It also will help eliminate uncertainty about market rates and foster improved relationships between brokers and carriers, he added.

“When we talk about rates, we believe that transparency of information is paramount,” Hutto said. “If everyone knows the information, it allows everyone to move freight faster and at a more profitable level.”

The forecasting engine relies on a proprietary algorithm to predict how rates will likely change.

Those forecasts are based on historical data, trends in the market and the factors driving those trends, such as the economy, fuel prices and productivity, said Noël Perry, a transportation economist at FTR.

“We look really hard at the historical data. We never have before. Now we’re able to,” Perry said. “We look at how the market has been trending and what’s been driving that trend.”

In the future, Truckstop.com plans to extend the forecasting service to contract rates as well, Hutto said.

Rate forecasting will first be available within Truckstop.com’s new Rate Analysis platform, which the firm also introduced at the conference.

Rate Analysis is designed to help users better manage their rate calculations by consolidating data sources.

Trent Broberg, general manager of Truckstop.com’s Real Time Freight division, cited the multitude of Excel spreadsheets and oftentimes multiple rating tools and third-party systems that transportation firms are using to make rating decisions.

“We’re drowning in data,” he said.

Rate Analysis, however, unifies all those sources into a single platform to streamline decision making and eliminate guesswork. The product is as an upgrade over the company’s existing Rate Mate product.

Another new feature is Load Insights, which provides users with more information on posted loads, such as the number of search views a load has received and how many truck postings are at the load origin.

That product, available within the Truckstop Pro freight matching marketplace, can help brokers move beyond the “post and pray” method of moving loads, said Bill Vitti, Truckstop.com’s chief sales officer.

Instead of simply hoping that the right carrier finds the load, brokers can see when there’s a need to make adjustments such as changing the delivery time or adding more information to the posting to speed up the process, he said.